At the heart of a high quality, equitable education is the establishment of a “culture of belonging” in classrooms and schools, where students feel they can be successful, where the work has meaning to them, and ultimately, where they are full-fledged member of the community.
At the root of this culture is the relationship between teachers and students, with the teacher acting as a caring adult who values the individuality of each student they work with, and takes the time to develop relationships with and among their students as they all work toward the shared goals of academic and social success.
These lessons work to help teachers establish safe and inclusive classroom communities where students learn to listen to diverse viewpoints and make their voices heard. As a result, these classrooms become student-centered spaces, facilitated by a trusted adult, where honest questioning, discussion, and social and academic growth can occur; where students build understanding and empathy, break down stereotypes, and strengthen their voices; and where they develop the skills necessary for academic and community success. These practices help lay the foundation for a classroom community centered on equity and justice.
Preparing for the Classroom
Teachers who use the identity lessons can prepare by asking themselves:
How can I engage in reflective learning about my own identity? Do I recognize the ways my own experiences, culture, and beliefs impact my interactions with students?
What explicit steps will I take to ensure a safe classroom environment where students feel comfortable sharing their identities with others?
How many lessons will I devote to learning about students’ identities?
Which lessons will I choose? What additional information or resources do I need to prepare?
How will what I learn about students’ identities impact my instructional planning for my classes?
After completing these lessons, how will I continue to foster and deepen relationships with and among my students?
What additional learning opportunities will I seek out to continue my own learning, interrupt my biases, and create more equitable educational experiences for my students?
- Exploring Identity
- The Complexity of Identity
- Community Matters: A Facing History and Ourselves Approach to Advisory (a login is required to access this publication.)
- Identity Charts & Discussion - Activities 19 and 20 (p. 103-109)
- A Story about My Name - Activity 5 (p. 65-66)
- Language and Identity - Activity 24 (p. 116 - 119)
- Audio: Lost in Translation
- Reading: Lost in Translation (p. 118 - 119)
- My Life Road Map - Activity 26 (p. 122 - 123)